Maternal depression increases risk of SIDS

Depression during pregnancy and after birth can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), particularly if the mother is depressed in the year before delivery, UK research has suggested.

Maternal depression increases risk of SIDS
Maternal depression increases risk of SIDS

Findings, presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' annual meeting in Edinburgh last week, showed the risk of SIDS increased by almost fivefold if the mother was suffering from depression in the year before delivery.

SIDS is the main cause of infant death in the first year of life.

For the study, the researchers compared 169 women who had experienced SIDS with a control group of 662 mother-infant con-trols. The first group consisted of women registered with a general practice who had a live birth be-tween 1987 and 2000 and who had an infant who died unexpectedly in the first year of life with a diagnosis of SIDS.

The second group was made up of women matched for age, registered with the same practices with a live birth born in the same year as a SIDS baby, but whose babies survived the first year of life.

SIDS was found to be associated with a history of depression in the year before birth, independent of other risk factors such as smoking; while only a weak association was found between SIDS and depression in the six months after birth.

Further research is needed to examine whether the association between depression and SIDS is due to low birth weight, pre-maturity or other causal mechanisms.

GPs need to advise new mothers with depression to reduce their infant's exposure to smoke and to place their baby in the supine position to sleep.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

Royal College of Psychiatrists

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